As fuel efficiency and emission requirements tighten, cars will increasingly need to become smaller. But that doesn’t mean they need to be less civilized than the megabuck cruisers that hold sway as today’s true luxury cars.
Surely, the Accord has enough high-tech gadgetry, safety equipment, ride quality, comfort and convenience accessories, back-seat room, cargo space and upscale cabin materials to qualify it as a luxury sedan in its own right.
The titans of civility --- Mercedes-Benz S550 et. al. --- will continue to reign, of course, but there no doubt will be fewer of them on the road, at least proportionately. And, as is the case with the Accord, true luxury will spread across a much wider, less expensive swath of the automotive landscape.
In truth, the Honda Accord Touring is not alone in providing a long list of amenities on what normally would be considered mere family cars. But, it is as good an example as I have yet found.
Consider this: The 2013 Honda Accord Touring comes one way --- fully equipped. And that includes a navigation system with voice recognition and rear-view camera, leather-trimmed seating, 7-speaker sound system with touch screen, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, dual-zone climate control, satellite radio (free for 3 months), Pandora Internet radio interface, auxiliary sound-system connectors, keyless entry and ignition, and heated front seats.
There’s one more thing of special note: Lane Watch. Flip on the right turn signal and a rear view of the passenger-side road shows up on the center-console screen. It’s great for knowing when it is safe to dart back into the slow lane. The camera can also be activated by pushing a button at the end of the turn-signal stalk to assist in parking.
The Accord Touring is powered by a smooth and quiet 3.5-liter V-6 engine that generates 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. The engine features cylinder deactivation, which seamlessly shuts off three cylinders when the car is traveling with a light engine load.
The result is excellent fuel mileage for such a powerful engine. The EPA estimates city driving at 21 miles per gallon and highway cruising at 34 mpg. Importantly, those figures can be obtained using regular-grade unleaded gasoline.
Most of my driving was on unobstructed suburban roads and 65 mph freeways. Okay, I confess to 70 and sometimes a few more mph. Anyway, the Accord’s trip computer told me I was averaging between 26 mpg and 36 mpg.
Although Honda reports that the 2013 Accord has been revised and upgraded from stem to stern, it still comes across as a familiar Accord. The lines are a bit crisper and better integrated, but the overall effect is of a car that has only been mildly restyled.
The 2013 Accord replaces the double-wishbone front suspension with a MacPherson strut setup. The result, according to the manufacturer, is improved ride and handling, and reduced interior noise, vibration and harshness.
From the driver’s seat, I was able to determine that the Accord handles well for a front-wheel-drive vehicle. It can’t quite match the inherently better balance of a sporty rear-wheel-drive sedan, but it is more than agile enough to handle all of the driving situations, expected and unexpected, that one will encounter on public roads.
In addition, the comfortable ride and quiet interior enhance the sense of luxury provided by the Honda.
Although the Accord’s exterior dimensions are minimally smaller than the previous model, interior room has been expanded. This is particularly noticeable in the back seat, where tall passengers will find adequate legroom even if the passenger in front has his seats pushed back.
For the vacationers, the Accord offers a generous 15.8 cubic feet of luggage space.
A true luxury car must have a wealthy of safety equipment and here the 2013 Accord Touring is again on the mark.
In addition to the expected complement of seatbelts, airbags and side curtains, it contains Lane Departure Warning; the previously mentioned Lane Watch; Adaptive Cruise Control, which automatically maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front at varying speeds; Forward Collision Warning, which alerts the driver to a potential collision with the vehicle ahead; traction control; stability control; emergency brake assist; and electronic brake force distribution.
By now you must be wondering what this alleged luxury car costs. The 2013 Honda Accord Touring has a suggested price of $33,430. Add the $790 delivery charge and the total comes to $34,220.
If that sounds high for a Honda --- and for many I’m sure it does --- it’s possible to get much of what the Touring offers in a variety of four-cylinder Accords that start at less than $22,000.
Those are the bread-butter models that earn and deserve the description of economical family sedans. They are the also the ones that will find the most buyers.
The V-6 Accords, particularly the Touring model, go well beyond the ordinary, and that’s why I think it’s fair to call them true luxury cars.